It’s been 8 years of cat-and-mouse chase between the US government and Osama bin Laden, the seemingly slippery leader of the slithery terrorist group al-Qaeda. With the US doing all the chasing and bin Laden doing all the skirting, one wonders at the vaunted reputation of American spies.
In the news not too far back, we learned that the US military in Afghanistan could have captured Osama bin Laden precisely 8 years ago but, as it turned out, Osama bin Laden slipping from US grasp somewhere in the boondocks of Tora Bora became one of the ‘greatest military blunders in recent U.S. history.’
Peter Bergen in The New Republic calls it ‘the single most consequential battle of the war on terrorism.’ “Presented with an opportunity to kill or capture Al Qaeda’s top leadership just three months after September 11, the United States was instead outmaneuvered by bin Laden, who slipped into Pakistan, largely disappeared from U.S. radar, and slowly began rebuilding his organization,” Bergen says.
The al-Qaeda leader, now close to 53 years old, is still alive and kicking. Above all, scot-free and roaming about, he is still proud to have ‘taunted the United States for “being the greatest economic power and possessing the most powerful and up-to-date military arsenal,” yet failing to stop the September 11 attacks.’
Expert opinion asserts that bin Laden is ‘in or near Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province on the Afghan border, perhaps in Bajaur or Chitral.’ But then, again, US spies can be wrong once more.
One fact remains, even while Osama bin Laden may be in any one of the mountain caves found on punishing, rugged terrain, his ‘2001 escape from Tora Bora’ cemented his ‘mythic persona.’
Have all these 8 years been about chasing a ‘mythic persona’ or chasing a ‘myth?’